Boston buildings built to last

BOSTON — After this week’s tragic Miami condo collapse, many in Boston are wondering if Boston’s waterfront buildings are susceptible to suffering the same fate.

Much of modern Boston is built on land that simply did not exist at the time of Paul Revere, and yet Boston’s buildings have not suffered a structural collapse as seen in Miami, Florida.

One reason: building owners must submit structural reports to the city every five years.

And if there’s a problem, Inspectional Services will take action.

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“We will issue violations until that is corrected. If it’s unsafe and dangerous immediate action is required,” Boston Inspectional Services Commissioner Sean Lydon said. “We have the authority, and the ability and we will close that building down.”

Boston’s buildings, mostly built on waterfront on former marshland, have endured for more than a 150 years.

The technology of anchoring structures to solid layers far below the surface is keeping those buildings standing.

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And while we don’t know what caused the Miami condo collapse, Wentworth Institute of Technology Civil Engineering Professor James Lambrechts tells me, the natural ground itself in Boston, can better support construction than in places like Florida.

And like so much in Boston, the answer is in the history books, to the time of the glaciers.

“Our soils here are much denser, the glacial till is a very dense layer. we build on that a lot,” Professor Lambrechts said. “In Miami ‚they never were glaciated. So, they don’t have the advantage of having the stiff soil layers that we do here.”